animated big image systems

The year was 1981 …

  • A Young Harrison Ford was kicking Nazi ass and Raiders Of The Lost Ark was the #1 movie.  
  • An old Ronald Reagan was elected president.  
  • MTV was set loose to kill the Radio Star.
  • Diana married Charles …

… And Werner Schäfer, (currently owner and member of the board), was working as an industrial photographer in Australia when he first encountered large format printed images on fabric.

It was love at first sight … sort of.

While impressive, the images did not have the high resolution Werner wanted. This was the early 80’s, and except for vinyl billboards, printing grand format images on textiles was a new and experimental concept and Werner, whose interest in culture, (particularly theatre), was nurtured during his childhood in Berlin, could see the future of the technology.

His pursuit of perfection and his love of the arts made him realize that printing images on fabric was perfect for the theatre.  Unlike vinyl or paper, fabric images did not need to be handled with as much caution.  Unlike traditional painted drops, which while beautiful,  printed backdrops would not be susceptible to cracking, peeling and rot

When Werner returned home from Australia he searched out one of the few printing presses in the world used for large image printing. He found it in Liverpool, where it was owned by a company that had just started producing large images in Europe. Werner became their general agent for the Scandinavian region. For a period of several years he was the leading sales person for large images in Europe.

But something was still missing …

He decided to purchase his own airbrush printer from the USA. In 1987 he set up shop in an empty factory location in Täby and Big Image was born, (known then as ScanaPrint AB).

Like most great ideas, it began with a setback.

The printer was an immensely complicated system with hundreds of knobs and switches. He just could not get it to function properly …

          old machine       origina;l

Over several sleepless nights and with no support he made the decision to invest everything, to start over from the ground up and recreate the industry.  This led to Werner not only having to literally “Go To School” to learn the basics of large image printing technology, but also how to design and build his own equipment that would perform to his standards.

With the help of students from Sweden’s prestigious Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) he began taking printing technology to places it had never gone. All in an attempt to create even better images.

The result was the worlds largest seamless printer for textiles, the 20′ wide roll printer capable of printing seamless backdrops 20′ x 40′ on theatrical cotton textiles;

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The bond between Werner and the students and institute continues to this day and is a hallmark of Big Image Systems. Some of the original students continue to work there to this day.  Managing Director, Andreas Skantze, began as an 18 year old computer operator. Werner’s wife, Margrit, and son Tomas, were there for a number of years and their daughters Johanna and Susi currently hold key positions in the family business.  

The company continues to collaborate with the KTH as well as other schools. And what a synergy! Recently Big Image Systems unveiled its newest technological milestone; the INFINITUS line of printers.


Infinitus is the worlds largest seamless printer for any material, with the capability of printing images 40′ x 160′.  Big Image has also pioneered environmentally conscious printing with the development of water-based printing inks, and continues to innovate printing techniques, including the new TRANSLIGHT printing process.

Today, Werner’s role at Big Image is to serve as an inspirational figure, while his daughter Johanna and Managing Director Rickard continue to lead the family vision into the future.

We want to make the world more exciting with large images, and provide even greater experiences for people everywhere.

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